A long but important preface to why I'm asking: I'm an applicant to med school, and if all goes well I'll be a student starting next summer. I've been thinking a lot lately about work-life balance and wanted to hear some thoughts from this community. Based on threads from other online forums (like SDN), however, I'm anticipating there will be some of you already jumping to comment that the very act of asking this question proves that I should not be a doctor. If this is you, please hear me out – I was raised by parents who were incredibly family-centered, always making sure that my brother and I knew we were the center of their world. They both worked full-time, my mom as an internist in an outpatient clinic, and my dad as an engineer. In my early childhood while my mom was in the beginning of her career (she had me during residency), I'll admit it was tough and that she was exhausted from long hours with little left over time for family. After those first couple years, though, she realized she wanted to prioritize family life and found a 40 hr/wk job (with some required meetings and on-call hours every couple weeks). She worked 7-3 while my dad worked 9-5 so that way one of them was always home with us kids when we weren't in school. Since then, never once did I feel like my parents did not have time for me – we always ate dinner as a family, they almost never worked late or on weekends, they dropped me off and picked me up from school and all other activities, never used a babysitter, etc. As far as I can tell, my mom does a great job with her patients in her current position and is also an amazing mom. I believe insisting that even asking about work-life balance reveals a lack of passion toward medicine is part of the current toxicity in this field that ultimately contributes to burnout and suicide being as common as they are.
With all that out of the way, I don't think it's wrong of me to be asking this question and try to find out how hard it will be in the future (like 7+ years from now) to find a job like my mom's that's around the 40-hour work week. I do realize that there will still be super long hours in med school and residency, a significantly lower pay compared to doctors working 50-60+ hours per week, and that certain specialties will not be an option. So, are 40 hour work-week jobs super competitive and difficult to find? Which specialties would they most likely be found in? Are they typically only obtainable once you've already been working a couple years or could you enter one of these jobs soon after residency?
Any of your advice and personal stories are super appreciated! I'd also be happy to hear about other ways you were able to get some work-family balance in your specialty (I've heard of doctors working part-time for a couple years while kids are really young and then back to a 50-60 hour/week job, for example). Ultimately, I just want the same things as my mom – to do an awesome job saving lives as a physician but also to have a family, with spending time with my children as a priority too.
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